Did You Know?

Did you know??
Although using avocados and bananas are all the buzz now to get soft and shiny hair, all it will get you is a messy kitchen and bathroom. These products are great to help your hair for one day, but the proteins in them are way too big for your hair to absorb. And unless you are going to use them each day (yikes!), then you should head to a beauty supply store and check out some Vegan products that use "hydrolyzed" proteins - proteins from avocados and bananas that actually are small enough to help your hair.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tuscan Rice and Bean Soup


Ahh, diet.  Just that word strikes fear into the hearts of many. While it only means the food you consistently eat, we associate so many negative things with the word. The funny thing about diets (a word I hate to use because of the connotation of restricted eating/enjoyable eating) is that when you have a certain diet (like being vegan), cooking for other people becomes a whole lot harder.  And while we live nearly an hour away from our families, and they rarely make their way around to visiting us, every once and a while we have family come stop by. And even though it's pretty rare for it to happen, something we have learned to do is have a few recipes that we can make that aren't 'scary' vegan foods.  Soups are always at the top of that list because they're easy to make on the fly, you can pretty much throw anything in there, and for the most-part they are either red, white, or yellow--nothing too threatening. 

That said, soups are a great all-round meal as they are chock full of vegetables and all sorts of good stuff. And being December, soup is one of the most important meals for the winter.  It's cheap, warms you, and is easy to make in bulk to enjoy for a few days in a row.  Rice and bean soup, in particular, can be made in so many ways-- it's really up to you with what you want to do with it.  This rice and bean soup was made to use up some of the stuff in the fridge, so it's a little unique in terms of which vegetables and how much of each vegetable is included. In thinking of our Vegan on the Cheap model, a bean and rice soup is good because beans are cheap, rice is cheap, and the watery broth fills you up.  Now don't let that fool you-- this broth is tasty and filled with delicious vegetable flavor.

This past week, as we were looking through our bills, wondering where our money was going, I noticed we hadn't really gone grocery shopping this month all too much.  Now, that's pretty common for us during the summer, as we try to live off our homestead as much as possible, but for the winter, it's pretty rare.  Something we've done differently this year was growing kale and celery through the winter, which has made part of our grocery bill disappear, something which I'll go into detail in a later post about cold frame gardening.  Another change this year compared to last year, which I believe is having a huge influence on our grocery bill is that during the late summer and fall we began to freeze as many fruits and vegetables as we could fit, and we've been digging into those the past month or so (I'll make a point to come back to this post to link to these articles when they're done).  I've gotta say, I'm pretty excited with how well it has worked out, and I'm hoping that next year we can even expand how much we store and grow throughout the winter.  Does anyone have any good materials on winter gardening in cold weather climates?

Anyways, back to the soup.  You might be wondering what makes a soup 'Tuscan'.  Well, Tuscan soups were based on the availability of ingredients, often using leftover soups as the base.  The soups often were made by peasants or cowboys while traveling, as it allowed them to continually reuse what they had and to let nothing go to waste. And since we're using many of the ingredients which were included in traditional Tuscan soups, it seems apropos to name it the same.  After foraging through your cold frame for your veggies, a nice rice and bean soup like this will warm you right up!

5 cups vegetable broth
1 cup diced tomatoes (or 1 12-oz. can)
1 cup uncooked rice
3/4 cup dried Great Northern beans (or 1 15-oz. can, drained and rinsed)
1 cup of celery, chopped
2 carrots, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup onion, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp extra-virgin cold-pressed olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

If using dried beans, soak overnight the day before.

In medium-sized pot, add olive oil and bring to medium heat.  Add garlic and onion, sauteing for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add tomatoes, celery, peppers, and carrots.  Stir occasionally for another 3-5 minutes.

Add broth, beans, and spices, and bring to a boil.

Add rice and reduce heat to simmer, allowing to cook for 60 to 90 minutes.

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